Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Army Spc. Christopher J. Moon

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Christopher J. Moon, 20, of Tucson, Ariz.

Spc. Moon was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died July 13, 2010 at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device July 6 in Arghandab, Afghanistan.

Spc. Christopher J. Moon, 20, of Tucson, Ariz., died July 13 at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, according to a news release.

Moon was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

Moon was wounded by an improvised explosive device July 6 while conducting a combat patrol in the Arghandab River Valley in Afghanistan

"Spc. Moon was the type of person we have all heard of but have very seldom ever met," said 1st Sgt. Derek Gondek, Moon's company first sergeant. "He was one of those men who no matter what he put his mind to he became a star at it, whether it was on the baseball field or on the battlefield. He will truly be missed by his fellow war fighters."

Spc. Chris Moon's awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Basic Parachutist Badge.

Family members were unavailable for comment Wednesday.

Chris Moon's loved ones, who had prayed around the clock for the soldier's recovery since his legs were amputated several days ago, reeled at news of his death.

"It's been very emotional, very hard for the family," said Pat Tapia, 48, a family friend who coached Moon in his Little League days.

"No one should have to lose such a good person."

Spc. Moon's relatives couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday. His mother, Marsha Begay Moon, and father, Brian Moon, were on their way back to Tucson after the military flew them to Germany to see their son.

"They are an extremely close family," Tapia said.

Chris Moon also is survived by a sister, Sunday Moon, and an 11-month-old niece, Semira.

Tapia said Chris Moon held the Army rank of specialist, but that couldn't be verified late Tuesday since the Defense Department had not yet confirmed his death.

His unit information also wasn't clear, but the soldier's Facebook page said he was located in Arghandab, Afghanistan, and was a fan of the "2-508 PIR" - an apparent reference to the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, part of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Soldiers from that unit have been stationed for several months in the Arghandab Valley north of Kandahar City, a volatile region where homemade bombs have claimed a number of U.S. troops.

Tapia said that by age 10, Chris Moon already showed much promise as an athlete.

"He was a kid who had a lot of talent, and whatever he didn't have in raw talent he made up for with his work ethic and great attitude."

As a young man, he said, Chris Moon "had a great personality. He was very lovable, always had fun and was easy to get along with."

"My love for playing the game is gone," he said in 2008. "I still like baseball. But it was overwhelming, and I got tired of it."

At the time, he told the Star, "school and baseball weren't what I wanted to do anymore."

Chris Moon's high school and college coaches remembered him as a tremendous talent who felt called to serve his country.

Tucson High coach Oscar Romero said the soldier loved being a part of the team - any team.

"Baseball, football - you name it, he was involved in it," Romero said. "He always wanted to be involved with the guys and be part of the team."

The team aspect of the Army also appealed to him, Romero said.

"He was a guy who wanted to get out there and get after it," Romero said. "What better place to play the game of life and get after it for your country than the Army?"

Chris Moon graduated at the top of his Army training class, Romero said, and was adjusting well to military life. He told friends he wanted to return to Southern Arizona after being discharged; maybe, Moon said, he would coach at Tucson High.

Arizona Wildcats coach Andy Lopez described the soldier as a talented pitcher and outfielder, one who could have contributed to a team that was ranked preseason No. 1 in the nation.

Lopez and Romero were both surprised by Chris Moon's decision to leave school. Lopez told Moon that he would be a big part of the Wildcats' team as a freshman or sophomore; Romero wanted his former star to play at least one season before making a decision.

Chris Moon listened respectfully, they said, but stuck to his decision.

"He was really determined to do what he did," Lopez said.

"I'm forever thankful to guys like Chris Moon. He gave the most you could give. He gave his life for his country."

Christopher Moon joined the Army on Feb. 5, 2008, and attended basic combat training and Airborne School at Fort Benning, Ga.

After completing training, Moon was assigned to Fort Bragg, where he arrived Aug. 12, 2008, and joined 2nd Battalion, 508th PIR.

He deployed with the unit to Afghanistan in September 2009.

According to a story Tuesday on the Arizona Daily Star's website, Chris Moon was a baseball player who walked away from a baseball scholarship at the University of Arizona to join the Army.

Army Spc. Christopher J. Moon died 7/13/10 from wounds sustained 7/6/10 in the line of duty.

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